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How to Select the Best Interior Design Program near Atmore Alabama

Atmore Alabama interior designed living roomOnce you have decided to enroll in an interior designer degree program near Atmore AL, it's time to begin the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing commercial or residential spaces, it's imperative that you receive the proper training to put your talents to work. And since some states do require that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing examination also. So it's very important that you do the proper research so that you can assess and compare each college that you are looking at before you make your final decision. But exactly where do you begin? A number of prospective students will launch their research by looking for interior design courses near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While location and cost are key variables when making a determination, they are by no means the sole ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation need to be taken into consideration as well. We will address those issues and other important questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are interested in later in this article. But before we do, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and class options are available.

Interior Design compared to Interior Decoration

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Often people mistake interior design for interior decoration and vice versa. The principal distinction between the two is the amount of education required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a general knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. However, doing business as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in numerous states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree and be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make work or living areas functional as well as attractive. On some projects they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are 2 broad areas that an interior designer in Atmore AL may specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers often work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design basically any room of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they may specialize in designing one particular room, such as kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Commercial Designing. When dealing with public or commercial spaces, designers normally focus primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but pay attention to both. For instance, business reception areas and meeting rooms are areas where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may focus more on functionality over appearance as the main consideration.

There are many areas of commercial and residential interior design that a designer needs to learn, including lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. Designers must be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From selecting carpeting and wall paper to incorporating Feng shui principles, Atmore AL interior designers implement a wide variety of skills that contribute to their final creations.

Interior Designer Training Programs

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There are four degree alternatives offered in interior design to obtain the training necessary to begin your new career in Atmore AL. Your decision will undoubtedly be driven by your career objectives as well as the time and money that you have budgeted to commit to your education. But regardless of which degree program you choose to enroll in, be sure to pick one that is accredited. Accreditation is mandated in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in several states. More will be discussed on additional accreditation benefits later. Below are brief descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design provide the minimum level of education required to enter the profession. They take approximately 2 years to finish and programs are offered at numerous Alabama community colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can typically qualify for entry level jobs as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that supply more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the technical and creative aspects of the business needed to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a college graduate in order to secure an entry level position as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs furnish advanced training in design after acquiring the Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer options in specialty majors for such things as residential bathrooms or business offices. A number of students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are mainly for those professionals who want to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs differ in length but are typically completed in 3 to 5 years.

To work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states require that graduates of accredited colleges become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be required before a candidate can sit for the licensing examination.

Interior Design Online Programs

For those who wish to attend classes in the convenience of their Atmore AL homes, there are online accredited interior design classes. Studying online can be a great solution for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make attending classes on campus difficult. Classes can instead be accessed on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For a number of students online schools may be the only option if no interior design schools are within commuting distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be lower than for more conventional options. Added expenses for such things as commuting or study materials may be minimized or eliminated also. Just make certain that the college you pick is accredited by a highly regarded accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online programs may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. If you have the dedication to acquire your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design program may be the right alternative for you.

Subjects to Ask Interior Designer Schools

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Now that you have chosen the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the process of analyzing your school options. Location will be a critical issue, particularly if the college needs to be within commuting distance from your Atmore AL home. Naturally if you have decided on attending an online school, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will decrease your choices as well. But selecting the most affordable college or the one that is closest to your house are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other factors that you need to consider as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the school. Below are a few questions that you may want to address with the programs you are looking at to obtain those answers in addition to others in order to help you assess and ultimately select the right degree program.

Is the Interior Design College Accredited? It's essential to confirm that the interior design school and program that you select has earned accreditation from either a national or regional organization. One of the most highly regarded in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges earning accreditation from the NASAD have gone through an extensive evaluation of their programs and teachers. Just verify that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are outstanding, it may also help when securing financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Atmore AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level positions.

Does the College Prep you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, a number of States do mandate that interior designers get licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination as well as a degree from an accredited college. And in some of those States mandating licensing, a minimum of 2 years of work experience may be required also. Therefore besides furnishing an excellent education, the Atmore AL college you select should also furnish the proper instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and meet the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and obtained your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly want some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are considering if they have a job placement program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good indication that the college and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design trade and its graduates are in demand. It could also indicate that the school has a substantial network of Atmore AL business connections where they can refer students to secure internships or jobs after graduation.

Is Financial Assistance Available? Contact the financial aid departments for the Atmore AL colleges you are evaluating and ask what type of aid they provide. Many of interior designer colleges provide financial assistance to their new students. Certain schools offer partial scholarships and others provide support in obtaining federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that choosing an accredited school is imperative for qualification in most cases. Often a college that has a higher tuition may actually be cheaper than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial assistance.

How Small are the Classes? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive little individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Atmore AL colleges you are considering what their average teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Atmore home, go to the college and sit in on a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to talk with a few students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their credentials are in interior design.

Are Classes Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Last, confirm that the interior designer school you select offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially important if you will continue working while attending college. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Atmore AL, verify that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, check that is an option as well. Finally, check what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.

Find Out More About Online Interior Design Colleges

Enroll in the Right Atmore Interior Design Program

Selecting the ideal interior design program is a critical first step toward launching your career in this artistic and fulfilling profession. Finding a college where you will obtain your education and develop your talents in a particular area of study is a challenging task regardless of what major you have decided on. As with any endeavor to acquire a higher education, there are several points to consider before enrolling in a school, program, or course. At a minimum, confirm that the program and design college are both accredited and highly esteemed in the field. However it is still essential that you perform your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the remaining recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to properly evaluate and compare interior design schools so that you can make the ideal final selection. And with quality training and your desire to succeed, you can reach your goal of becoming an interior designer in Atmore Alabama.